Advice, Culture

Mexican Words with Special Meanings

Improve your Spanish by learning words with special meanings in Mexico

Google will tell you there are 10 main Spanish dialects, but that doesn’t even begin to cover the intricacies of the Spanish language. Latin American Spanish is one of those 10, but it’s an all-encompassing term that covers Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and most of Central and South America. Breaking it down even further, however, is crucial to understanding each country’s people, culture, and traditions.

Our new video series, “Speaking of Spanish,” will give you an easy-to-understand look at different aspects of the Spanish language that will help you blend in with the locals and leave native speakers con la boca abierta (i.e., with their mouths wide open). The first video is an inside look at three words that are unique to Mexican Spanish, which will come in handy whether you need to use Spanish in your day-to-day life or are headed to Mexico for business or pleasure.

Our top three words in Mexican Spanish

  1. padre
    While the common definition of padre is “father,” it can also be used as an emphatic way to say “great” or “awesome” in Mexican Spanish. You’d say, “¡Qué padre!,” which means “How awesome!”

  2. güey
    Regardless of where you are in the world and what language is spoken there, you’ll find a colloquial way to say “dude” or “man” like you would to your friends back home. In Mexican Spanish, that’s güey.

    The next time you want to say what’s up to your friend, instead of opting for Castilian Spanish (¿Qué pasa tío?), try the Mexican version: ¿Qué onda güey?

  3. ¿Mande?
    Are you confused about something someone said? Instead of opting for the traditional “¿Qué?,” or “What?,” try out “¿Mande?,” which is Mexico’s equivalent. Mande translates to “pardon,” which may sound awfully polite, but they even use it with friends and family.

Other useful terms in Mexican Spanish

There are countless terms unique to Mexican Spanish that may pop up in your standard conversation or day-to-day life, and we don’t want to leave you hanging. Here’s a handful of bonus words to add to your vocabulary:

  • ¡Aguas! 
    • Yes, agua means “water,” but when someone says “¡Aguas!,” it means “Careful!” or “Watch out!”
  • chido
    • Want to say something or someone is “cool”? Chido has got you covered.
  • No hay bronca
    • You may be used to hearing “No hay problema” to say “It’s no problem,” but in Mexico, they say “No hay bronca.” 
    • Bronca on its own means “scolding,” “quarrel,” or “fight” in the sense of a verbal argument, but in Mexican Spanish, bronca has a more vague meaning that can be used for any type of problem. 
  • ¡No manches!
    • The verb manchar means “to stain” something, but when you say “¡No manches!,” you’re expressing disbelief, like “No way!” or “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
  • ¡Órale!  
    • Whether in amazement or as a means of showing approval, ¡Órale! is Mexico’s way of saying “Wow!”
  • paro
    • Need to ask for a favor? In Mexican Spanish, they say paro instead of favor. (Yes, favor is spelled the same in English and Spanish!)

Curious to learn more? Keep an eye out for more “Speaking Of” videos in many different languages! You can also check out the Phrasebook section in the Rosetta Stone app for more useful words and phrases to put into practice.

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